PEORIA, IL -- Public comments to the Peoria District 150 School Board on April 25 focused on summer school and teachers, while a parent complained about an autism program being moved.
Activist Terry Knapp recalled for the board how the chess tournament first was sponsored by the teachers, then the Board of Education partnered with the teachers as the event evolved into state-wide competition.
"We need more of that and we need to work together," he said.
Then he brought up summer school, which ended because of a lack of funds. "We need a two month summer school program," Knapp said "I know we have limited funds. Find the resources, partner with people in the community to get the resources. It's sad that we don't have truly year round schools for our students."
Sharon Crews discussed problems with teachers, including how they leave the profession because they dislike policy decisions made by the central administration. See her written comments below.
A parent expressed concern with the autistic program being moved to another school building. "Consistency is a big part of their development," he said.
The 7th and 8th graders, now at Glen Oak School, will miss programs such as sex education. The teachers oppose the move, he said. "The school (even) lacks central air," he added.
"I will not let this slide," he said. "The voice of the people who deal with these kids hasn't been taken into consideration. All kids matter. "
A man spoke about a proposed private program at Calvin Coolidge School, from a group of young entrepreneurs wanting to help over the summer. They will volunteer for in-school and extracurricular activities and make donations to the school, including school supplies, he said.
Here is a recording of the comments:
-- Elaine Hopkins
From Sharon Crews:
Finding and retaining teachers are problems facing most public schools. How many teachers have left our district after one to five years?
This administration has begun to change the perception and the reality of the more negative teaching environment that it inherited. Concerns of teachers across the country seem to be the same as past experiences here. Such as:
Policy decisions are made by central administrators, who often assume they know more than teachers do about what works in the classroom.
In my opinion, the most negative example of ignoring teacher input was Lathan’s demand that teachers use the Reading Mastery Program. I believe a Whittier teacher, who had effectively taught so many children to read, was so frustrated with this directive that she risked teaching reading the way she always had and went unnoticed until her retirement. Good for her and her students. We all witnessed what happened when Charter Oak objected to the program. Such programs are described in internet comments as scripted lessons that a robot could perform. Also, some administrators jump on every new approach or computer program. Also, there are the constant administrator walk-throughs with their I-pads clicking off check-boxes.
The testing craze is a second issue that negatively impacts teachers and teaching and essentially blames teachers for results. Testing has caused teachers to lose control of content and pacing and has added mountains of paperwork from teachers required to prove they have addressed the objectives, etc.
A major issue is the problem of student discipline and lack of support from administrators. I do believe this administration has started to address the problem—for example, the efforts to improve Lincoln and to address mental health problems. This is a never ending task about which complacency is not possible.
Certainly, salary is a teacher concern. Teacher pay has become a political football with threats to end teacher benefits, freeze salaries, cut pensions, and unions. Frequent increases in class size adds work and often increases discipline problems. Yet no one considers larger class sizes as a reason for pay increases.
Salary does not reflect the fact that many teachers work evenings, on weekends, and during vacation periods and summers. I often wished that administrators cared enough to ask how many hours a day we worked at home. Especially high-school teachers are expected to sponsor and/or show up for extra-curricular activities. Also, teachers spend considerable money on supplies for their work and for their rooms.
Finally, an Internet post that I share: I worry for the future of education in this nation. There have always been problems of one sort or another, but the pressure on teachers is increasing. I wonder when the breaking point will come when too many will walk away to keep the system afloat. - 80 -